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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1866

Vol. VI‑A

(Born Mas.)

William H. Upham​a

(Ap'd at Large)


(William Henry Upham, Born May 3, 1842.)º

Born May 3, 1841,º at Westminster, MA.

Military History. — Private, 2d Wisconsin Volunteers during the Civil War, 1861‑62; in Manassas Campaign of July, 1861, being engaged in the Action of Blackburn's Ford, July 18, — and Battle of Bull Run, July 21, where he was severely wounded and captured; prisoner of War to Feb. 17, 1862, when he was released; discharged from Volunteer Service May 11, 1862, and appointed to Military Academy; Cadet at U. S. Military Academy, July 1, 1862, to June 18, 1866, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Second Lieut., 5th Artilleryº

Served: At Fort Monroe, Va., Hdqrs. 5th Artillery, acting Post Adjutant, Sept. 1 to Oct. 20, 1866; at Fort Barrancas, Pensacola, Fla.,º Oct. 24, 1866, to Mar. 28, 1867;

(Transferred to 4th Artillery, April 11, 1867)

At Fort Wayne, Mich., Apr. 11 to July 5, 1867; at Detroit, Mich., Aide-de‑Camp to Commanding General, Department of the Lakes, to May 9, 1868; at Ft. Wayne to

(First Lieut., 4th Artillery, March 4, 1869)

Apr. 26, 1869; on leave of absence, to Nov. 18, 1869.

Resigned, Nov. 18, 1869.

Civil History. — Manufacturer at Marshfield, Wis., where he erected a saw mill, grist mill and elevator, and furniture factory, and installed water and electric light company; served various terms as member of District  p120 School Board; Town Board; Alderman, and Mayor of the City of Marshfield; appointed by President Arthur Member of Board of Visitors to U. S. Naval Academy; Department Commander, Grand Army of the Republic of Wisconsin, March, 1891 to March, 1892; Governor of State of Wisconsin, Jan. 1, 1895 to Jan. 1, 1897; Member of Board of Visitors to the U. S. Military Academy, 1898; Member of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the U. S.; of the Sons of the American Revolution; of the Colonial Wars; of the Founders of America; residence, Marshfield, Wis.

Died, July 2, 1924.​b

Buried, Hillside Cemetery, Marshfield, WI.

Thayer's Notes:

a The version of the Register data reproduced here is that in the 1920 edition. It has fuller information and folds together the original entry (Vol. III, p73) and the Supplements, Vols. IV and V; but the details of his early career as an officer are also a bit different. In the text of this webpage, to read the earlier edition, float your cursor over the little bullets like the one at the end of this sentence.º

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b Upham's life was on the picaresque side; the following fuller information is from Men of Progress. Wisconsin. A Selected List of Biographical Sketches and Portraits of the Leaders in Business, Professional and Official Life, together with Short Notes on the History and Character of Wisconsin, ed. Andrew J[ackson] Aikens and Lewis A. Proctor, Milwaukee, The Evening Wisconsin Company, pp63 ff. ("image 58" ff. at American Memory, Library of Congress). A slightly different version of this same text appears in A Political History of Wisconsin, by A. M. Thompson, 2nd ed., Milwaukee, 1902 pp340‑343 — the first draft of which, according to its own preface, was "made for the Milwaukee Sentinel, and published in the Sunday edition of that newspaper from week to week until concluded, the initial installment appearing in the issue of January 2, 1898." Different authors and rival newspapers — I smell hanky-panky, or in plain language, there's an appearance of plagiarism somewhere in all this — but that doesn't affect the information contained, of course:

UPHAM, William H., ex-governor of Wisconsin, was born in Westminster, Massachusetts, on the 3rd of May, 1841.º He traces his ancestry back in direct line to John Upham of Somersetshire, England, who came to this country in 1635, and settled in Weymouth, Mass. W. H. Upham received his primary education in his native village, and when eleven years of age came west with his father's family to Niles, Michigan. There his father died, and the family came on to Racine. In the last named place young Upham continued his studies until the outbreak of the civil war, when he became a soldier in the Second Wisconsin infantry. He took part with his regiment in the first battle of Bull Run, July 21st, 1861, was shot through the lungs and left for dead on the field of battle. The report of his death reached his home, the papers published eulogies of him and an eloquent funeral sermon  p64 was preached in one of the Racine churches. Seven months after the battle he was discovered in Libby prison in Richmond. He had been found on the battle field, not dead, as his comrades had supposed, but seriously though not fatally wounded, and carried off to a hospital, where he recovered and was then held as a prisoner of war. After months of prison life, he was paroled, and went to Washington. President Lincoln, hearing of his wonder­ful experiences, sent for him in the hope of gaining important information from him concerning affairs in the south, and such information young Upham gave. The president was so pleased with the bearing of the young man that he procured for him an appointment to the West Point military academy, from which he graduated with honor, after completing the regular course of study, and was commissioned lieutenant in the regular army. At the end of ten years of service in the army, Lieutenant Upham resigned his commission, and returned home.

Almost immediately upon returning to civil life he became interested in the lumbering business at Marshfield, Wisconsin, built a saw-mill, and later established a furniture factory, opened a large general store, and was one of the organizers of the First National bank, of which he was chosen president. In addition to these he operates a large planing mill, a machine shop, and a very extensive flouring mill. June 27th, 1887, Marshfield was almost entirely destroyed by fire, and the homeless inhabitants were in despair. Though the heaviest loser, Major Upham was not discouraged, but announced that the little city should be rebuilt; and by the first of January following sixty-two substantial brick blocks were built and occupied, and the city was again started on a career of industrial progress. His work in this dark hour in the town's history shows most clearly the courage and unconquerable spirit of the man under the most adverse circumstances.

Major Upham married Miss Mary C. Kelley, an accomplished and benevolent lady of Quaker ancestry, and they have two daughters.

He has retained a lively interest in military affairs, is a member of the Loyal Legion, the Grand Army of the Republic, has been commander of the latter for the Department of Wisconsin, and was once a member of the board of visitors to the naval academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

He has been long an active and earnest Republican, and has rendered his party great service in its campaigns. He was the Republican candidate for governor in 1894, and was elected by the then unprecedented plurality of 53,869. His popularity among his neighbors was shown by the fact that although his county, Wood, gave a Democratic plurality in 1892, of 441, in 1894 it gave Major Upham a plurality of 1,123.

Toward the close of Gov. Upham's term he made public announcement that he should not be candidate for renomination, and this the nomination went to Major Scofield.

Upon the expiration of his term of office, Gov. Upham cheerfully retired from his official duties to resume again the active control of his extensive business at Marshfield.

Finally, according to an article once online at the Milwaukee Sentinel, Nov. 9, 2003 (page now deleted), after his wife died, he "had a boat built for himself. A storm during one of his journeys forced him to dock at Beaufort, N.C., near Cape Hatteras. It was there he happened to meet Grace Mason. He was 73. She was 29. They married in 1915 and came back to Marshfield" — and proceeded to have children who were still living in 2003.

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